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God Dethroned | Ravenous | interview | Henri | metal | Lollipop

God Dethroned

Ravenous (Metal Blade)
An interview with Henri
by Scott Hefflon

This is your second time to the US?
Yeah. We toured hear last time with Cannibal Corpse, and now I'm in the states for a few days doing interviews. We hope to be back for the summer to tour.

The record isn't even out yet here...
It comes out April 24th [gotta love the time lag, eh?], but it's been out on Europe since February. The schedule in the States was really crowded so we had to wait. And they needed more time to promote it.

For Ravenous, you used Tony Laureano (Angel Corpse, Nile) as a session drummer, but he's not a permanent member?
He's busy with Nile, but he'll help us whenever he can. Roel, our last drummer, had good job opportunities and was afraid that they would never come around again, so he quit the band because he couldn't quit his job. We'd been touring a lot since '99's Bloody Blasphemy - two European tours, a US tour, a Japanese tour, and a lot of festivals - and that's a lot of time to spend away from home...

Did he quit at a "good" time, or did he leave you in the lurch?
He left after the Japanese tour but before we were to write the new album. It was good that he finished all the tours with us, but it was fucked up that he wouldn't be there to record the album with us.

Did he play an active part in writing the songs?
No, not really. We just had no one to play the parts, and that's a problem. We couldn't find anyone in Holland or Germany or Belgium or France; there just aren't many good drummers. But we knew Tony for a long time and that Angel Copse had split up, so that seemed like a good idea. We called to ask if he'd do it and he said yes. We flew him in, and a few days later we had the drum parts we wanted. He was with us for only a week: A few days of rehearsals, and then three days of recording. He was a very quick learner.

Had you sent him a tape of any of the new material?
Yes, we'd recorded a tape with a drummer we knew we couldn't record with so Tony could hear the rhythms.

That must've been an interesting plane ride! Here's this guy listening to a tape and slapping his thighs and pounding his feet, thundering like a pro!
Yeah, and by the time he got here, he knew what he wanted to play. It went really well.

Ravenous seems more straight-forward and faster than Bloody Blasphemy.
It's definitely faster, and the songs are shorter. Our songs used to last five or six minutes, but most of the songs on this record don't even last three-and-a-half minutes!

The last record had more baritone vocals and keyboards and stuff.
That's true. This one is more pure. We still have the typical God Dethroned melodies so it's not like we really changed the basic idea, but we have less keyboards - only on one song, I think - and more death metal style on this record. We really grew as a band, having played so many shows after Bloody Blasphemy. We also try to add diversity between songs and between albums to keep it interesting for the fans. And for us.

Have you toured with bands that might've led you to this faster, shorter style?
Well, we've toured with a lot of death metal bands recently - Immortal, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, and Ritual Carnage - but we haven't really changed. We're still very melodic, but maybe we did get a little more death metal...

You started as a straight-forward death metal band, right?
We started in 1990 as a very brutal death metal band. Our first album, The Christhunt, was an extreme album. There weren't many melodies, just blasting all the time. Then we broke up. We reformed in 1996 with a new line-up, and while we do some of the songs from the old God Dethroned, the band became much more melodic, as it's been every album since then.

What bands did you "come up with" in Holland?
Holland is a very small country. I can only think of Warfare, Asphyx, and The Gathering at the moment... Everyone knows each other here, but I wouldn't say everyone is influenced by each other. Most of our influences would have to be Scandinavian or US death metal bands, I guess.

I thought of Grave when I first heard Ravenous...
It might be the guitar sound. We like them and Scandinavian death and black metal a lot, so I can understand you hearing the similarities. We have a Swedish touch...

Who else do you consider peers?
I didn't know At the Gates personally, but I have emailed with Jensen, who is now in The Haunted and Witchery, and he very much likes God Dethroned.

During your break from God Dethroned, you were in a thrash band, right? I can hear some definite thrash elements in the melodic death metal style you play.
Yes, and I think At The Gates had a lot of thrash in their riff as well, but they were tuned so low, it sounded like death metal. Thrash metal is a musical style that'll probably never be as big as death metal, but a lot of people like it, and it influences many people who do not play thrash metal.

What bands did you listen to that made you want to start your first band?
Nuclear Assault, the first Death album, and later, the first Entombed, the first Dismember, the first Darkthrone, the first Morbid Angel... Those bands, and those records in particular, influenced me a lot.

Speaking of Death, I notice you close out Ravenous with Death's "Evil Dead," that's from Scream Bloody Gore, right?
Yes. We played on a tribute to raise money for Chuck (Schuldiner, guitarist/vocalist of Death and Control Denied), and the song turned out really well. When we recorded it for this album, the only thing we changed was that we play blastbeats during the chorus.
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